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Old 11-16-2014, 06:49 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanlife78 View Post
This is my idea of perfect density, which would probably fall into the classification of medium density. It has a density rating of about 8-10K per mile, not too crowded, but not too light in density. Here.
I like areas like this, but it is a little light for frequent transit. The sweet spot is about 12-15k. But that Portland neighborhood is actually a lot like Oakland. I walked around near there and it reminded me of the Temescal and Rockridge areas of my town.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=temes...classic&dg=brw

My own neighborhood adds in more condos/apartments and is a bit denser at about 12k. There are streets like that, and ither streets that are about 50% multi-family in about 3-4 story 20 unit buildings.
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Old 11-16-2014, 08:06 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JR_C View Post
I think that the examples of "rather low density" in the OP are quite typical of the kind of older development found in most small and midsize cities that aren't in the NE. In Youngstown, for example, almost everything built before WWII, that wasn't downtown, was similar in density to the examples provided. But, there were many commercial corridors, ensuring that no one was more than a 1/2 mile away from one.

However, instead of having 2 adults and 3+ kids in each of these homes, we now have singles, childless couples, empty-nesters, etc.. The population density may not be high enough to support that much retail and public transit, today.
Kitchener-Waterloo was mostly single family homes. Some of them were duplexes/semis or two-flats or boarding houses but mostly SFH and a limited number of larger 2-4 storey apartment buildings. Densities were around 10,000 per square mile. But it was also a pretty small place, about 1 mile from Downtown Kitchener to the edge of town, and even less in the case of Waterloo, with a bit of development along the two streetcar lines stretching further out. Pretty much all the retail was concentrated in and around the downtowns of Kitchener and Waterloo though from what I can tell. The buildings that are still standing along the streetcar routes outside downtown are mostly residential with a few industrial buildings served by railways (and interurbans?). You had a few corner stores scattered about but that's pretty much it.

It was a fair bit smaller than Youngstown before WWII though, about 40,000 for Kitchener and 10,000 for Waterloo. Did Youngstown have continuous retail along these commercial corridors though? How much retail did they have? Gerrard Street in Toronto for instance has (and had) a streetcar but it's only about 30% lined with retail. On the other hand, Queen W, College, Yonge and Bloor in Toronto are probably more like 80-90% lined with retail.

And many of these examples have much of the retail about a 10min walk from the average home, but that didn't mean having to walk 10 min to go to the store because if you were going somewhere else (ex to work) that 10 min walk was the walk home from the streetcar stop and the retail was right at the stop.

Winnipeg would be a smaller Midwestern/inland with a fair bit of multi-family in the downtown adjacent neighbourhoods. River-Osborne, Corydon, West Broadway, Spence and Centennial mostly. Densities are around 15-25k ppsm and walkscores around 80-95. OuttatheLouBurds' examples were mostly around 60-80 (and 43 for Birmingham!). SFHs there cover more land area than multi family although I think it's pretty even in terms of units. Downtown of course is basically just apartments (for housing) and denser and more walkable. There's a decent stock of pre-WWII apartments, but also a fair bit that's post-WWII.

For a city that size, I think those kinds of densities can work pretty well, but most of Winnipeg is more like 1/2 or 1/3 that density (more outlying streetcar suburbs and auto age suburbs).
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Old 11-16-2014, 09:49 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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And what is the "Goldielocks" density really depends on what you're looking for, and on the size of the city.

Like parts of Los Angeles, Houston or Portland could be examples of somewhat auto oriented neighbourhoods that are still fairly vibrant.

Then you can have the mix of multi family and single family like you see in some Western cities like Oakland, LA, and parts of Winnipeg, Minneapolis... You can still have a single family home if that's what you want, and others can have an apartment if they don't need/want the space, and maybe the apartments could be closer to transit and retail. IMO those sorts of densities will still be somewhat auto-oriented in large cities, but could work for small cities.

For large cities, if you do as in Japan, you can still have single family homes (also some small apartment buildings mixed in) and quiet areas. See these videos of people bicycling around Tokyo's side streets.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FsvS99nWTc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ci2e5ZPF4G8

You're not going to have a big yard, barely enough for BBQing, although you can still have patios or balconies, and greenery. But notice how peaceful it is, despite being probably 3-5 times denser than typical streetcar suburbs. And then along major roads and near rapid transit stations you'll have bigger apartment building and even higher densities.

You can also go the way of neighbourhoods like Centre Square in Albany where I was a few weeks ago, or the Plateau Mont Royal or La Petite Patrie in Montreal, which are pretty dense but still quite pleasant imo.

Jane Jacobs' ideal for goldielocks density was based on more than just the bare minimum needed for walkability. For her, densities need to be high enough that bad behaviour could not occur without witnesses to intervene and kids could play in the street/sidewalks and always have adults around to watch over them. You also wanted a great diversity of businesses and housing types. The number she gave was over 100 units per acre which is about 10 times streetcar suburbs although she later acknowledged lower densities could work depending on the context. 100 units per acre is around 2-2.5 FAR so you could achieve that with a mix of dense row houses, mid rises and maybe the odd high-rise.
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Old 11-17-2014, 04:43 AM
 
Location: Laurentia
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I think the OP's question has been answered - the urbanists do want us packed in like rats . As for the medium density, at a micro level I don't see the point of owning my own home on a lot small enough to see and hear everything my neighbors do (and vice versa) and too small and exposed to do much of anything with it without bothering other people (and vice versa); it offers little privacy or usability advantage over a rowhouse or a townhouse. If you ask me the same logic applies to anything less than 1/4 acre, with 1/4-1/2 acre being borderline; then again, as a rule I like out-of-town housing rather than in-town, so perhaps I'm not the best person to comment on city density .
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Old 11-17-2014, 05:59 AM
 
Location: Youngstown, Oh.
4,896 posts, read 7,663,909 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by memph View Post
Kitchener-Waterloo was mostly single family homes. Some of them were duplexes/semis or two-flats or boarding houses but mostly SFH and a limited number of larger 2-4 storey apartment buildings. Densities were around 10,000 per square mile. But it was also a pretty small place, about 1 mile from Downtown Kitchener to the edge of town, and even less in the case of Waterloo, with a bit of development along the two streetcar lines stretching further out. Pretty much all the retail was concentrated in and around the downtowns of Kitchener and Waterloo though from what I can tell. The buildings that are still standing along the streetcar routes outside downtown are mostly residential with a few industrial buildings served by railways (and interurbans?). You had a few corner stores scattered about but that's pretty much it.

It was a fair bit smaller than Youngstown before WWII though, about 40,000 for Kitchener and 10,000 for Waterloo. Did Youngstown have continuous retail along these commercial corridors though? How much retail did they have? Gerrard Street in Toronto for instance has (and had) a streetcar but it's only about 30% lined with retail. On the other hand, Queen W, College, Yonge and Bloor in Toronto are probably more like 80-90% lined with retail.

And many of these examples have much of the retail about a 10min walk from the average home, but that didn't mean having to walk 10 min to go to the store because if you were going somewhere else (ex to work) that 10 min walk was the walk home from the streetcar stop and the retail was right at the stop.

Winnipeg would be a smaller Midwestern/inland with a fair bit of multi-family in the downtown adjacent neighbourhoods. River-Osborne, Corydon, West Broadway, Spence and Centennial mostly. Densities are around 15-25k ppsm and walkscores around 80-95. OuttatheLouBurds' examples were mostly around 60-80 (and 43 for Birmingham!). SFHs there cover more land area than multi family although I think it's pretty even in terms of units. Downtown of course is basically just apartments (for housing) and denser and more walkable. There's a decent stock of pre-WWII apartments, but also a fair bit that's post-WWII.

For a city that size, I think those kinds of densities can work pretty well, but most of Winnipeg is more like 1/2 or 1/3 that density (more outlying streetcar suburbs and auto age suburbs).
In Youngstown, most commercial corridors didn't have continuous retail. In some parts of the city, there were small commercial clusters along the main corridors, like this: https://www.google.com/maps/@41.1123...URVSaMgEVw!2e0
The next commercial cluster on Elm St. was between 1/4-1/2 mile north, up the road.

In other parts of the city, the commercial and residential were more mixed: https://www.google.com/maps/@41.1020...V3ii0kDoPA!2e0 (I'm sure that, over the years, many houses that remained between the larger buildings were demolished to make room for parking.)

Market St. was probably the most commercial corridor outside of downtown.: https://www.google.com/maps/@41.0720...mMnHrrxyXg!2e0

But, most of the stores found on the first floors of these buildings were for neighborhood services. The big department stores/major shopping destinations were downtown.

---

I hope my examples are understandable. Having lived here for almost 15 years, it's easy for me to see beyond the blight, and see what was there before.
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Old 11-17-2014, 06:15 AM
 
Location: Youngstown, Oh.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patricius Maximus View Post
I think the OP's question has been answered - the urbanists do want us packed in like rats . As for the medium density, at a micro level I don't see the point of owning my own home on a lot small enough to see and hear everything my neighbors do (and vice versa) and too small and exposed to do much of anything with it without bothering other people (and vice versa); it offers little privacy or usability advantage over a rowhouse or a townhouse. If you ask me the same logic applies to anything less than 1/4 acre, with 1/4-1/2 acre being borderline; then again, as a rule I like out-of-town housing rather than in-town, so perhaps I'm not the best person to comment on city density .
Perhaps I wouldn't mind living in a row-house. I've rarely had an issue with privacy, living in a SFH on a small lot. (My current lot is 40 feet wide, but my previous lot was 32 feet wide) I've never been bothered by the possibility that I might be visible to my neighbors while: entertaining, grilling, sitting, or napping outside. And, it never bothered me that I could see my neighbors doing the same, if I chose to look. For me, the biggest advantage of a SFH on a narrow lot, to a row house, is the additional daylight and air movement.
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Old 11-17-2014, 06:28 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,053 posts, read 29,550,732 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patricius Maximus View Post
I think the OP's question has been answered - the urbanists do want us packed in like rats . As for the medium density, at a micro level I don't see the point of owning my own home on a lot small enough to see and hear everything my neighbors do (and vice versa) and too small and exposed to do much of anything with it without bothering other people (and vice versa); it offers little privacy or usability advantage over a rowhouse or a townhouse. If you ask me the same logic applies to anything less than 1/4 acre, with 1/4-1/2 acre being borderline; then again, as a rule I like out-of-town housing rather than in-town, so perhaps I'm not the best person to comment on city density .
Sounds like your ideal density is further from a city center, which is fine. Inner city neighborhoods shouldn't have such large lots because they defeat the purpose of being inner city.

And my ideal medium density doesn't pack people in like rats, it actually give people plenty of room to enjoy.
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Old 11-17-2014, 06:57 AM
 
Location: Tijuana Exurbs
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Much of new housing construction (80s/90s) in coastal Southern California was built on lots sized like those in the OP's post (5000 or so). What made it unwalkable was that 1) the houses were tucked behind the garages making the neighborhoods look like a place to park your car and not much to look at, 2) the streets were laid out as cul de sacs rather than grids, and 3) the neighborhood serving commercial was so far away that it could only be accessed via automobile.

In San Diego, some of the most desirable locations to live in the city are the old "streetcar suburbs" because of the walkable closeness of the commercial areas. The houses are as close together as the newest construction but the commercial is nearby. It was only in the 50s through the 70s that you had a period of somewhat larger lots (6k - 7k sq ft).

The newest developments actually are re-creating this format of a commercial center surround by smaller lot (5000 sf) housing, even though they are far from the city center. What they do to boost the density per square mile, is surround the commercial with apartment buildings before it transitions to single family housing: essentially, miniature cities of 2000 - 3000 people.

What they lack is quality architectural style.
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Old 11-17-2014, 08:58 AM
 
8,328 posts, read 14,572,548 times
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Variety is the spice of life--and of urbanity. I like a mixture of densities, in a neighborhood or even a block. It's not hard to design a block that mixes small apartment buildings with single-family homes, especially if the apartments are designed in complementary style. Late 19th century building styles were more vertical, elevated from the sidewalk level so they provided some privacy and prominence even on a small lot with a small front yard. Modern "urban infill" housing tends to resemble these older styles, in form if not in function--the Boston "three-up," the row house in its detached or attached variants, the backyard in-law quarters, and the mixed-use building, which can also resemble a house, with living quarters upstairs and retail downstairs. If the mixed-use building provides necessary neighborhood conveniences, this promotes walkability, sparing neighbors the need to drive to faraway commercial centers. And, of course, the third factor is access to transit. The traditional neighborhoods shown in the OP's links depended on some form of transit to get its residents to distant points, but roads also provide accessibility via other modes--bikes, cars, even the automobile.

I'm not horrified by the idea of actually seeing my neighbors. They're nice folks, we can see each other from the front porch or if I open a window but modesty and privacy can be preserved through use of a "curtain," which is a piece of cloth stretched over the window so others can't see in when you're doing things the public doesn't want to see.

Not everyone has the same idea of "goldilocks" density, but there is no reason why multiple densities can't be offered in the same neighborhood--except for archaic "zoning" regulations that declare that single-family homes next to six-plex apartments will somehow cause a disruption in time and space.
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Old 11-17-2014, 10:31 AM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
2,610 posts, read 3,764,950 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patricius Maximus View Post
I think the OP's question has been answered - the urbanists do want us packed in like rats . As for the medium density, at a micro level I don't see the point of owning my own home on a lot small enough to see and hear everything my neighbors do (and vice versa) and too small and exposed to do much of anything with it without bothering other people (and vice versa); it offers little privacy or usability advantage over a rowhouse or a townhouse. If you ask me the same logic applies to anything less than 1/4 acre, with 1/4-1/2 acre being borderline; then again, as a rule I like out-of-town housing rather than in-town, so perhaps I'm not the best person to comment on city density .
So would you be willing to pay more to live in a place like this?
https://www.google.ca/maps/@43.82920...xKaT-PR2CA!2e0

vs a place like the Tokyo examples?
Why do we ignore moderate density?

or more North American style row house neighbourhoods?

So far I've lived in
2 townhouses
2 small lot SFHs (about 35x80ft)
1 student apartment (second floor of three, with units on both sides, building had a courtyard of sorts)
1 duplex/two flat (on the top floor, also next to a church and about 60ft from a frat house
1 house of a fairly large lot (1/3 acre)

The only time I could hear stuff from neighbours was in the student apartment, which was probably unavoidable seeing as the other people living there were mostly 1st year students.

I could see into my neighbours yards in the townhouses and small lot SFHs but also with the 1/3 acre SFH. You'd probably need either a very large multi-acre property or very dense evergreens. The building my grandparents building (both 3-4 unit walk-ups on 1/8 acre lots) backs onto has a thick row of evergreens that you'd have to stick your head into to see through. Backyards were pretty much equally deep in all cases at 20-40ft, the differences in lot sizes mostly had to do with lot width.
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